Why I’m Proud to Be Self-Centered


Photo by Cathy Cole (Fire Monkey Fish) via Creative Commons on Flickr.

One cliché about people without kids is that we’re self-centered. But shouldn’t that be a compliment?

I’m not talking about the traditional meaning of the word, which is close to “selfish” or “self-absorbed.” But let’s break “self-centered” down a bit.

Shouldn’t being “centered in myself” be good? It sounds like being grounded, knowing who I am, and having the strength from that to reach out to others and support them too.

In our culture, though, being self-centered means being interested in yourself at the expense of others. And this is a criticism often turned upon those of us who choose not to have kids.

Being childfree helps me remain self-centered, in my re-imagined sense of the word. If I had kids, I wouldn’t have much time to meet with my writing group, have phone calls with my friends about their love lives, or take the train to see my parents. I could still do those things, but they wouldn’t come as easily.

For my friends who are parents, their sense of self expands to include their kids. That’s beautiful. But a solitary sense of self can also be both strong and loving.

Childfree friends and allies with kids–join me in a pledge to get more self-centered! To know ourselves, and rely on ourselves, so we’re strong enough to do more good in the world.

Here’s an interesting essay defending parenthood against charges of selfishness.